UCLA Spotlight


9/11 Memorial Service

  • Published Sep 1, 2001 8:00 AM

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, a concerted terrorist attack left a trail of destruction from Pennsylvania to the Pentagon. Horrified, the nation watched as New York City's World Trade Towers crumpled to the ground. No one could tally the loss of life.

At UCLA, reactions ranged from shock and fear to anger and determination. Within hours, the weekly spotlight feature had been pre-empted by messages from the Chancellor. During the following weeks, the spotlight communicated the decision to keep the campus open, the need for heightened security, and the availability of resources such as counseling centers. More importantly, the Chancellor put the feelings of the campus into words.

On Thursday, Sept. 13, the campus community gathered in front of Royce Hall for a memorial service. Chancellor Albert Carnesale spoke to the thousands of faculty, staff, alumni, students and friends assembled.

An Attack on Humanity

The headline on yesterday's Los Angeles Times was, "Terrorists Attack New York, Pentagon." The headline on yesterday's New York Times was, "U.S. Attacked." Neither of these great newspapers got it right.

This attack was not suffered solely by New York and Washington, nor even more broadly by the United States. What happened on Tuesday, September 11, was an attack on all humanity.

Whether the carnage occurred in New York, or in Washington, or in Mexico City, or in Beijing, or in Nairobi is of secondary importance. Wherever the lives were taken, this was a dastardly attack on innocent men, women, and children everywhere.

In that very real sense, this was an attack on the UCLA family.

The United States has long been shielded from catastrophic events of such enormous proportions. We watched from a distance unconscionable acts of genocide and interminable ethnic conflicts. This time, the incalculable damage was done in our homeland.

The loss is too great to be defined or measured. Even at that, it is expected to grow, and surely will weigh on our hearts and minds for generations. What is clear is the undeniable fact that we too are only human; that we too are vulnerable; and that we too have a vital interest in bringing an end to violence everywhere.

Tuesday's tragedy was our tragedy. All four of the passenger-laden aircraft that were hijacked and crashed were headed for California. Many of the people on these planes were to be met at Los Angeles International Airport by family members and friends.

To those who lost loved ones, friends, and colleagues on those planes or in the demolished buildings, this represents a very real, personal, permanent loss. Our hearts go out to all of them. We share their grief.

The time has come for us to direct our energies toward healing. The time has come for us to come together to help one another cope with the personal suffering and to begin to mourn the loss of lives. The time has come for us to come together to speak to one another, to hear one another, to teach one another, and to learn from one another. The time has come for us to come together as a community - the UCLA community - to share our feelings of shock, sympathy, and sorrow.

Shock, sympathy, and sorrow are not the only emotions we feel. The wanton acts of terrorism also induce anger and fear.

Those who planned, supported, and executed these heinous acts deserve to be the objects of our anger. They must, and will, be found and punished. But they are not among us.

Surely there could be no greater victory for the terrorists than if we were to direct our anger toward each other. We must avoid making the tragic error of assuming guilt by association. Tolerance and respect are the hallmarks of a civil society, and they must continue to be the hallmarks of the UCLA community.

Fear is the other emotion with which we must deal. Fear is precisely what terrorists hope to induce. That is their goal. That is the purpose of their ghastly acts. The calamitous losses inflicted this week demonstrate that we are all mere mortals.

But that is not to say that we are in constant mortal danger. As chancellor of UCLA, my highest priority is to ensure the safety of the students, faculty, staff, and visitors on this campus. Be assured that all prudent measures are being taken to provide for your security. You are, after all, the university's greatest treasure. You are UCLA.

We need not, must not, and will not be cowed by the recent acts of true cowards. As a united community, we will find through each other the strength to step bravely into the future, and to be proud of ourselves, proud of each other, proud of our university, and proud of our country.

In conclusion of today's ceremony, I ask you to join me in a moment of silence: in remembrance, in prayer, in unity, and in hope.